Anything You Want summary
40 short chapters, each highlighting a key learning through a relatable story. Essentially, it's a fun guidebook on how to start a business you'll actually enjoy running. There was almost no need to highlight points, as the entire book is pretty much a highlights reel of Derek Sivers' entrepreneurial learnings! Still, here are some of my favourites.
Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.
The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.
But revolution is a term that people use only when you’re successful. Before that, you’re just a quirky person who does things differently.
We’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I had misunderstood. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.
For every event you get invited to, every request to start a new project, if you’re not saying, “Hell yeah!” about it, say no.
By not having any money to waste, you never waste money. [My note: The advantage of not taking external funding.]
It’s counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.
Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy into actually solving real problems for real people.
To me, ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
When you build your business on serving thousands of customers, not dozens, you don’t have to worry about any one customer leaving or making special demands. If most of your customers love what you do, but one doesn’t, you can just say good-bye
Have the confidence to know that when your target 1 percent hears you excluding the other 99 percent, the people in that 1 percent will come to you because you’ve shown how much you value them.
Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans.
So please don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.
A business is started to solve a problem. But if the problem were truly solved, that business would no longer be needed! So the business accidentally or unconsciously keeps the problem around so that they can keep solving it for a fee.
That’s the Tao of business: Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well.
Writing that e-mail to customers—carefully eliminating every unnecessary word, and reshaping every sentence to make sure it could not be misunderstood—would take me all day.
When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts and come up with world-changing massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you.
Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company. Over ten years, it seemed like every time someone raved about how much he loved CD Baby, it was because of one of these little fun human touches.
There’s a benefit to being naive about the norms of the world—deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.
When you want to learn how to do something yourself, most people won’t understand. They’ll assume the only reason we do anything is to get it done, and doing it yourself is not the most efficient way. But that’s forgetting about the joy of learning and doing. Yes, it may take longer. Yes, it may be inefficient. Yes, it may even cost you millions of dollars in lost opportunities because your business is growing slower because you’re insisting on doing something yourself. But the whole point of doing anything is because it makes you happy! That’s it!
But I never again promised a customer that I could do something that was beyond my full control.
Because my team was running the business, I was free to actually improve the business!
There’s a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles. To be a true business owner, make it so that you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.
Never forget that you can make your role anything you want it to be. Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find that person and let her do it.
I learned a hard lesson in hindsight: Trust, but verify. Remember it when delegating. You have to do both.
I learned an important word: abdicate. To abdicate means to surrender or relinquish power or responsibility; this word is usually used when a king abdicates the throne or crown. Lesson learned too late: Delegate, but don’t abdicate.
But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough.
Business is as creative as the fine arts. You can be as unconventional, unique, and quirky as you want. A business is a reflection of the creator.